23 March 2009
Critical Skills List refinement affecting British emigration to Australia
Last week, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) announced that they would downsize the Critical Skills List (CSL) so that the Australian skilled migration program would more effectively bring in the skills needed most in the Australian economy. Andy Harwood, a registered migration agent from the Australian Visa Bureau, has recommended to all potential migrants to Australia to use alternate migration pathways if they no longer have a skill on the CSL, including the employer/state sponsorship programs and the Australian working holiday visa.
The Critical Skills List (CSL) is a list of skilled occupations that represents those skills that the Australian economy needs most. As part of their more targeted approach to Australian skilled migration, DIAC has given Australian visa applicants with occupations on the CSL and applicants with employer/government sponsorship priority processing so that migrants can fill jobs faster in Australia.
The Government last week announced that not only would they be allowing 14 per cent less Australian skilled migration visa applications to be approved, they would reduce the number of occupations listed on the CSL.
The Government removed building and manufacturing trades from the CSL, such as bricklayers, plumbers, welders, carpenters and metal fitters, but has left health and medical, engineering and IT professions. As a result, potential British migrants in these occupations are starting to grow agitated that they have lost their pathway to emigrating to Australia.
Andy Harwood said while the cutback will be reassessed for the mid-year Budget release, the pressure on the Government to respond to the economic conditions will continue until mid-year 2010.
"Australia thought it would escape the economic downturn because its mining industry was so strong," he said. "But since mining has been affected by falling commodity prices, the Australian economy has begun to suffer. Its unemployment rate is now 5.2 per cent and is predicted to reach 7 per cent by June next year. That has brought pressure to stop bringing in migrants."
While Australia is certainly suffering the knock-on effects of the recession from the UK, US and other countries, figures show that those living in Australia are better off than those is the UK, and those figures go further than showing off how many sunny days Australian residents bask in every year.
While the UK is the cheapest country in the world to buy bread, results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Office of National Statistics for December 2008 show that the more expensive daily items are cheaper to buy in Australia, including meat and petrol. For example, a person filling up a car with 30L of petrol every week could save up to £280 per year, and a family of four that consumes 2kgs of beef a week could save up to £303 if they move to Australia. Also, while a Ford Focus would cost £12,866 in the UK, its equivalent in Australia would cost £9,338.
According to Easier.com, the research from Foreign Currency Direct (FCD) shows that Australia has a 22 per cent lower cost of living than the UK.
UK migrants are also finding that they are earning more in Australia than they would in the UK, and that they are getting bigger house properties at a lesser price. For example, an Australian project or construction manager earn, on average, over £7,500 more than their British counterparts, while bricklayers and hairdressers are earning around £2 more per hour in Australia than in the UK.
According to The Times, one skilled worker and his family have found the news to be a massive setback to his plans to move to Australia. Stephen Downes was due to emigrate through the Australian skilled-independent migration scheme using his skills as a plumber, which up until last week had a listing on the CSL. Unfortunately, after spending a year going through the Australian visa application process, Mr Downes now has to plan a new route to Australian migration.
"This is something we’ve always wanted to do," said Mr Downes. "Our boys are seven and four and we want a more outdoors life for them. Having spent a year of our lives and almost £5,000 on the visa-application process, I was so disappointed to learn that the goal posts have been moved. Our lives are on hold until we know what’s going to happen."
However, there is still light at the end of the tunnel for prospective Australian migrants. The cutback to the CSL may have pushed some visa applications to the bottom of DIAC's pile, but alternative routes to migration could actually work out to be much faster than the skilled-independent route.
The Government has re-ordered priority processing so that all employer-sponsored visa and Government-nominated visa applications are processed first. This means that if Mr Downy and others in his situation gained sponsorship from an Australian employer or any of the State/Territory governments, then they could have their applications back to the front of the queue.
While a job offer is not necessary to gain a State/Territory nomination, to apply through the employer-nomination stream one needs to have an employer willing to hire them in a particular occupation. Working in Australia on an Australian working holiday visa for 12 months is an easy way to meet prospective employers and seek their sponsorship to stay in the country permanently.
The Australia working holiday visa allows British residents to work in Australia for up to 12 months, provided they do not work for one employer for longer than six months. While in Australia, the visa holder can work to supplement travel, and if they work in a specified occupation in regional Australia for three months or more, can apply for a second working holiday visa.
"My best advice for anyone thinking about applying for a work visa is to do the online assessment, which has the latest points legislation built in; it will tell you in five minutes whether you qualify for any of the visas still available," said Mr Harwood.
"If you don’t but your heart is still set on escaping to Australia, consider a working holiday visa, which could allow you to be on a beach on the other side of the world within a fortnight."
If an Australia working holiday is appealing to you, and you would like to find out if you are eligible for the program, take the working holiday online assessment test through the Australian Visa Bureau website.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.